Kaitlyn Caron ’13
The Cedar Springs High School jazz band has a new face, and with that new face comes new obstacles.
Many changes have been thrown at this year’s jazz band since last year’s group of seniors left. Nearly half of the band had been composed of seniors. Many vital roles were left with nothing but a big pair of shoes to fill. Adjusting to these changes has been a challenge and a distraction for the group as a whole.
“We definitely spend more time teaching [the new members] things that our upperclassmen last year knew pretty well,” explains trombonist Whitney O’Brien ’13.
When it comes to experience, the balance of the band has definitely been reversed. This is especially true in the rhythm section of the group. The rhythm section is vital to the jazz band because it provides the heartbeat for the ensemble. A rhythm section in a typical jazz band is composed of several percussionists, an electric guitarist, a bass guitarist, and a pianist. But this year, the band has no electric guitarist, one bass player, a pianist, and two percussionists. Not to mention, the piano player, Thomas Waite ’13, is the only upperclassman in his section.
“A rookie rhythm section has definitely hindered our band’s growth initially. It’s difficult to put together lots of music without a solid foundation,” admits Waite.
However, jazz instructor, Mr. Robert Robuck, doesn’t see this as a set-back.
“I’m always excited for [what’s to come]. The rhythm section is young, but they’re talented. It’s always a surprise with what’s going to come out of them,” Robuck shares.
“Although our band may be young, we’re all very hard workers, moreso than in years past even,” adds O’Brien.
With the loss of so many seniors and the influx of new members, almost every section leader had been replaced. Even though seniors are typically the ones placed in charge of their sections, Sean Herp ’14, Baron Lenardson ’14, and April Roberts ’15 have assumed new leadership roles alongside senior section leaders, Waite and Kaitlyn Caron ’13.
“They are all strong players and lead well,” tells Jacob Gust ’14 of all the section leaders.
An additional adjustment for the group hit them during the first rehearsal, when their jazz instructor informed his students that they were not doing a Jazz Show this year. The band has performed their annual Jazz Show since 2008, a play written specifically for the group that had many musical interludes filled with twists on pop classics from different time periods. When the students found out that there would not be a show this year, they were devastated.
“I was shocked. I [have] always loved the show and was disappointed,” says Gust on his reaction when he heard the news.
“I was only in one show, but I loved it so much so I was disappointed not to be doing it again,” agrees Roberts.
Alternatively, the jazz band has had more time to put more focus on their musicianship, which is and always has been their ultimate goal. According to the director and players alike, this new group offers a fresh sound, a great work ethic, and massive potential. Experience isn’t necessarily what’s going to take this jazz band to new places; the ensemble’s skills, work ethic, and ability to problem solve is what’s going to make their performances better than ever before.
Waite concludes, “Jazz band relies just as much on experience as it does talent.”